Marketing organizations are continually challenged with keeping their skill sets current. The demand for the most sought-after skills exceeds supply, and overworked marketing departments often lack the resources required for ongoing professional development. One way to get the digital marketing skills you need, when you need them—and reap additional benefits—is to hire independent contractors.
Digital marketing today encompasses much more than email marketing and social media. While those skills are still relevant, the list of must-have skills continues to grow as existing digital technologies evolve and new ones come to the fore. We reviewed several “top marketing skills lists” for 2017 and found some overlap here and there, but the common theme was the need for technical skills.
According to research by Venngage, some of the most demanded skills by marketing directors and hiring managers are data analysis, SEO, SQL, Google Analytics, and HTML. Of course, these are some of the most difficult skills for which to hire. “There is a MASSIVE shortage of marketers that are skilled in the art of data analysis. In fact, only 3% of all marketers are competent in crunching large sets of data at every job level,” reports Venngage.
The marketing technology stack is growing at an impossible pace as well. MarTech Today reports that there are now 5,000 companies that are part of the marketing technology landscape, compared to just 150 in 2011—just six years ago. Your existing team might be able to evaluate the best marketing technology for your business, but leveraging the solution well enough to reap the largest returns is something they’ll likely have to stumble through with trial and error.
Venngage blogger Ryan McCready shares: “Google Analytics has 1.5x more demand than supply (only 7% of marketers have it), but that is still better than <1% of the general working population who understand it. SQL skills have 5x more demand than supply at entry and high levels, and up to 10x more demand at mid-level.”
Adding an independent contractor with experience in the marketing technology you’re beginning to invest in could get you out of the gate much faster and reaping much larger rewards.
Supply versus demand is one problem. Another is time. Some skills, like SEO, require ongoing professional development to stay apprised of best practices and changes in the way search engines analyze and rank content. Busy marketers can easily miss an algorithm update that results in content dropping from the top of search engine rankings to the bottom.
Other skills, like video marketing, require a whole subset of skills that take time to learn and hone. “In 2017, marketers should not only know how video is used in marketing but master scripting, shooting, and editing videos for Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.,” writes Laurence Bradford for Forbes.com.
While it may be difficult to find full-time employees, the growing pool of independent contractors offers an alternative for obtaining must-have marketing skills . As our very own May Chang wrote previously, “Many have coined the economy we are now in as the ‘gig economy.’ Independent contractors can choose to work on temporary gigs and projects from around the world, while enterprises can select the best individuals for specific projects and tasks from a global pool.”
It behooves freelancers to specialize in their skill set of choice, particularly when market demand for that skill set is high. Their clients, in turn, benefit from the experience the contractor acquires by providing the service to multiple clients. This added perspective, even (or perhaps especially) if it’s outside of your industry, can prove to be an incredible value add as you venture into new territory.
Hiring independent contractors also gives the marketing organization added agility. When preparing for a new product launch or busy selling season, for example, Marketing can increase head count without the expense of full-time employees. Similarly, marketing can hire independent contractors that specialize in specific marketing tactics for a trial period to determine if the skill set is worth a further investment.
The key to maintaining a good working relationship with independent contractors is to treat them as an extension of your team while being mindful of their time. Help your contractors to understand your marketing strategy so that they know how their contribution fits into the bigger picture. This may mean inviting them to an occasional team meeting, even if by video conference so that they can meet other members of your organization or learn more about your business.
Some employees may find that working with independent contractors takes some getting used to—particularly if they’ve only worked with other “badged” employees. To help these employees and your independent contractors establish a productive working relationship, requires the use of all the collaboration tools you have at your disposal. Microsoft OneDrive or Teams allows for easy file sharing and text-based communication, while video conferencing helps facilitate a more personal relationship and improve empathy and engagement. As with most endeavors in business, you will get out of your relationships with independent contractors what you put into them.